Slater to shoulder burden for Origin II

He may face season-ending surgery but Billy Slater won’t let anything stop him helping Queensland’s bid for State of Origin triumph on Wednesday.

The veteran fullback turns 32 next week and is coming off contract with NRL club Melbourne Storm this year.

He has not played since Queensland’s 11-10 Origin I win in Sydney last month because of his troublesome shoulder injury.

However, Slater said on Friday he was putting all that aside until after Origin II at the MCG on Wednesday night, when the Maroons attempt to seal their ninth Origin series win in 10 years.

“I’ll be right next Wednesday night,” he said.

Asked about reports he could face shoulder surgery after the game, Slater said: “I can’t rule anything out.

“My focus is the next week, that’s all.

“What happens after that, we’ll see.”

Slater’s shoulder dramas began when he copped a huge hit from giant Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei in April.

He was sidelined for a month and missed Australia’s trans-Tasman Test loss to new world No.1 New Zealand.

He aggravated the shoulder again in Origin I and there is speculation that a similar hit in game two may even end his career.

If Slater was concerned, he wasn’t showing it.

Asked if he expected to be targeted, Slater said: “Everyone is under pressure in their positions.

“You can’t hide in Origin.

“But that’s all policed. I am not too worried about that.

“I know when I am out there I am fair game.”

There were reports that Maroons staff were monitoring Slater in Melbourne because the shoulder pain was so great it was disrupting his sleep.

But Slater – who missed last year’s Four Nations due to surgery on his other shoulder – said he expected to chime into every Queensland training session ahead of Origin II.

As back-up, bench utility Michael Morgan has already spent time training at fullback for Queensland in Melbourne.

Queensland prop Matt Scott sat out Friday’s session as he manages a back complaint.

Slater had a target on his head already after NSW took offence to what they believed were grubby tactics by the veteran No.1 in game one.

The Blues were angered by an Origin I incident where Slater appeared to slam his forearm into unsuspecting NSW centre Josh Morris’ back late in a tackle.

But Slater said he wasn’t taking much notice of any retribution talk coming out of the Blues camp.

“It’s water off a duck’s back. It’s irrelevant really,” he said.

“Come kick-off I don’t think anyone will be too worried about what anyone said in the paper.”

Meanwhile, Slater admitted he would have to take more responsibility organising Queensland with halfback Cooper Cronk (knee) out of Origin II.

“(But) I think I do that anyway in my role,” he said.

“I am quite a talkative person on the field anyway. Calling the plays is not foreign to me.”

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